Last Stand- Taking a Look at Stabilizing, Going Down, and 0 HP

The Problem

I agree there is this sort of moment of "oh... well then..." when a character stabilizes.
I don't really love the idea of characters who are downed easily popping up every few seconds either though.
What I do is allow a medicine roll from anyone aiding a stable character to get them to 1 hp and get up, I also allow characters to force feed healing potions and even goodberries to bring back the fallen. But I make them do it. If the rest of the party is going to ignore their fallen comrade then they are going to have to wait until later, but the player is likely going to remind them every single turn that they could use some help :)
I also use "death exhaustion." Where if you are dropped to 0 and come back you do so with a level of exhaustion. This means they can keep getting up, but it is harder every time.
I don't think I would allow actions at zero... I allow groaning and moaning and a few well placed words but may not go beyond that... your system is interesting though so I will think about that :) Maybe limited actions with a con roll?
I let players who are down take 1 exhaustion to get a HD worth of HP. It lets them back in the game but doesn’t feel cheap.
Yeah I'm apprehensive about taking actions as well, but I like it from a dramatic standpoint. So here's what I'm thinking as a compromise: the player can take an action if they choose, under OP's original restrictions. However, if they choose this, they physically push their character beyond safe limits, and so they are destabilized (if they were previously stable), and must make another death save immediately after their action. That'll put some significant risk and a bit of a gamble into the descision.
Combined with your idea of giving an exhaustion point, I think it could actually be somewhat balanced.
Death exhaustion is an awesome idea. I’m stealing that.
I DM a campaign with a Druid and a Cleric, both have healing hands and the Cleric has healing word. My players pop up like whack-a-mole gophers because they automatically stabilize and heal when one of the magic users helps. So while I don't think the system needs changing, I could certainly add fatigue to help penalize recklessness.
> The downed Paladin Lays Hands on himself, stands back up, and tells the BBEG "We're not finished yet"? Badass.
I generally like this idea, but I would propose some changes.
I'm gearing up for GMing Avernus, I may use a version of this.
Bear in mind, prone characters do automatically have disadvantage on attacks, which is why I didn’t feel the need to specify it.
The “all attacks have advantage” thing is basically a holdover from Unconscious, but it seems to me to be there to make ranged attacked an downed character easier, even though they’re prone. I would call that purely up to taste.
Auto crit’s another Unconscious holdover. Kept to preserve the idea that you don’t want to be at 0, even if you can keep fighting. But seeing as the character still has a little pep left in their step, and they’re likely to be taking failed saves from annoying whatever they’re fighting, I could see a case for removing the auto crit.
I think this won't have the effect you want. Instead of leaving an unconscious enemy to concentrate on the rest, the bad guys will continue attacking the still effective PC's until they are dead.
The 0 HP unconscious rule is a mercy rule, taking the PC out of the fight so they are more likely to survive. This rule simultaneously increases the party's power (and therefore encounter difficulty), while making them more likely to be killed.
I did say this will probably get more players killed than vanilla rules simply because a Downed PC attacking is basically inviting the bad guys to hurt them when they’re at their most vulnerable.
Personally I’d run bad guys so that they continue to ignore a downed character much the way they would an unconscious one until the player attacked or did something to affect the outcome of the battle.
A player crawling away for dear life isn’t a concern in the middle of a pitched melee- unless you’re a particularly cruel bastard (which some of my villains are).
But this way, the players choose when they are given mercy and when they are cut down for continuing to be annoying.
I like the drama aspect of this, would not allow an attack though. Staying in a downed and barely consicous state sounds dramatic. Maybe a loaded crossbow at disadvantage? But the pc to be allowed to crawl 10ft, would make more sense if someone gives them a health pot too.
prone movement is already halved and could be halved again with terrain, so they would likely have 15 -10 ft of movement anyways. if they make all attacks at disadvantage, its probably good enough to deter many attacks unless they are literally that close to winning.
I would allow crawling (honestly maybe only 5 ft, I would have to see how it works out). I would maybe say an attack takes 2 turns and can be stopped by anybody within 5 ft as a bonus action. Barely a threat at all.
Try this on for size.
For being reduced to 0 Hp, all rules for death saving throws, falling prone, incapacitated condition remain the same.
When a PC stabilizes make the following change.
Stabilized PCs regain 1 HP and may either choose to fall Unconscious, or may Push Through and attempt to tap their heroic well of strength and rejoin the fight, but at a cost.
A PC that chooses to fall Unconscious will regain consciousness in 1d4 hours if unaided, or sooner if a successful DC15 medicine check is made.
A PC that chooses to Push Through, must first make a Constitution saving throw. DC is dependent on the number of times the PC has Pushed Through since their last Long Rest. 0 = 10, 1 = 13, 2 = 15, 3 = 18, 4 = 21
If unsuccessful, the PC gains one level of Exhaustion, falls Unconscious, and will regain consciousness in 1d4 hours if unaided, or sooner if a successful DC15 Wisdom (Medicine) check is successfully made by another character.
If successful, the PC gains one level of Exhaustion and may act normally.
I was going to suggest the exact same thing. Seems more balanced this way.
I like this but how much HP do you give the character if they push through? Just one or roll their equivalent level in dice?
Neat idea, though it looks like the actions specifically prohibit simply drinking a potion to pop right back up. That makes sense mechanically, since that would circumvent the consequences of dropping. But it doesn't make a ton of sense that they can attack or cast a cantrip, but can't chug some liquid health. Not sure the answer for that one.
I would say that you should remove the option to attack with two handed weapons. You already have disadvantage on the attack rolls. Drinking a potion can be harder than shanking someone with a dagger, or muttering an incantation of fire bolt, but it should be possible in my eyes. Maybe have the players make a check to drink the potion (slight of hand probably)? There's also the point that the PC probably isn't holding a potion of healing when going down, so they can't drink it because of that.
I really like this idea.
I am one to try for grittier games, and an addition I thought of while reading is opening up the actions, like allowing the Hail Mary Fireball, but needing to do those Bigger Heroicer™️ things results in a failed death save. This way you can do small things more freely, but going all in on trying to use multiple attacks, or a well-timed Power Word: Kill will feel more butt-clenching and rewarding should they work, AND you live.
I like the idea of allowing the use of death saves as a resource. Really adds to the drama.
I like this a lot because narratively it means a lot less of the weird knocked out, bounce back up thing that seems so prevalent. Knocked down is much easier to come back from in my head than KO'd, and since it is mechanically so easy to come back, might as well reflect that.
When "downed" / "stable" do you keep existing failed death saves or do they start with 3 chances for Bigger Heroicer things?
I saw an alternative dying mechanic a couple of weeks ago somewhere on Reddit that replaced the dying state with gaining levels of exhaustion. Basically at 0hp, you get one level of exhaustion and continue to do so each round and every time you're hit, until healed or dead (at 6 levels). There were a couple of variations of still using death saves or not. I want to give it a try in my next game, as I feel that it would allow players to still play the game while still suffer detrimental effects of dying.
My only problem with this is that it's very similar to the Zealot Barbarian's ability. It makes that ability kind of pointless, which isn't fair to any player picking that subclass.
I really like this. I have a similar, albeit grittier house rule of permanent death saves! Basically whenever a character hits 0hp, they have a choice to make. They can either A: drop like normal and automatically stabilize, or B: attempt a death saving throw. if they succeed, they're still up, take a level of exhaustion, and have to make the save again next round with a +1 to the DC. They have the option to not make a save at the beginning of their turn and go down as normal. If they fail a death save, they go down and automatically stabilize, but the failed death save is permanent. I feel like this gives the player a choice in what happens to their character and gives them a Heroic Last StandTM but it doesn't fix the issue of player boredom your mechanic does. I'll definitely be using this during my next combat!
One quick edit,
"Any attack that hits the creature is a critical hit if the attacker is within 5 feet of the creature."
You may want to change this to melee instead of 5 ft since it would deny the critical if the hit was with a reach weapon.
And changing it to melee would deny the critical for archers standing over them with a point-blank arrow to the temple.
I like this concept, but I feel it is too enabling and not punishing enough. Hitting 0HP needs consequences because taking damage and getting close to death needs to feel dangerous. If you allow someone to act as usual even at 0HP makes HP and Damage mean less and its an important part of playing the game.
I personally use a combination of Giffyglyph's Darker Dungeons v1.5 "Life & Death" rules for Lingering Wounds, which are gained upon hitting 0HP, but also "On Death's Door" by
And not forgetting, Death Saves only refresh on a long rest. So
I see the appeal of the death save for things other than running or defending yourself! Adds a nice cost to going down.
Could you link the On Death’s Door one? I tried following the link you threw up, but it seems like it didn’t work.
I wouldn’t call Downed “acting as normal” though. It’s permanent half speed, your attacks (realistically just attack) is at disadvantage, you autofail Str and Dex saves, and you’ve still got the normal threats of failed saves in response to damage and auto crits from being attacked. It’s a diminished and vulnerable state that your HP keeps you out of and damage brings you closer toward.
That said I do get the idea that being able to Attack/Cantrip while down can seem like a bit much, which is why I encourage removing those two first! Even just being able to Dash and Disengage (and speak) is more interesting and fun than just lying in the dirt.
I love this. I think I'm going to implement this as an addition to being stabilized.
I like that there's a couple of turns where a downed player is helpless, and beholden to the whims of everyone around them in the default version of the system. But I REALLY like the flavor of them being initially stunned (making death saves) before regaining a semblance of consciousness (stabilizing) and crawling around with what strength they have left.
Pretty excited! Now to down my players...
Why wouldn't nearly any monster or npc immediately attack the weakest and most wounded party members to down them yet again?
Sometimes? That’s technically what a vanilla unconscious person is- the weakest and most wounded party member.
Personally I run bad guys that usually ignore characters that have hit 0- why take the time to “finish off” a non threat when there are 3 other actual threats still hammering at you?
A sufficiently cunning or cruel enemy’s answer to that question is “So they stay down, and so I hurt the enemy morale.” But I deploy those kinds of guys sparingly.
And I’ve transferred the same mentality to this. Who’s a priority here? The Paladin you just sprawled out across the floor and who may or may not get back up, or the Storm Barbarian that is swinging a big axe at your head right now?
Heck, let the Paladin crawl away. While they run, that’s one less hero to fight, and it’s not like they can get far crawling and bleeding out.
Is the idea. Obviously as soon as that downed player turns around and makes an attack, or pulls a lever, or destroys the McGuffin, they’ve earned the bad guy’s ire, but that’s another story. And a choice the player made.
Say a dragon is surrounded (more or less) by the party. If it beats its wings and knocks half of them prone. Doesn’t it make more sense, in the mind of the dragon, to keep going at the Paladin hammering on his face rather than the Ranger and Rogue it just knocked prone?
So, just an initial reaction, but stabilizing naturally means making three death saves. Presuming a character gets KO'd in round 1 with no chance to act, that means at least 4 rounds before the tension disappates.
This scenario seems founded on the notion that most combats are going to a) last more than 5 rounds, and that the player in question isn't going to get to do anything in those rounds.
This is not a critique of the problem as laid out, but more of a curiosity about how often this scenario actually is an issue, outside a whiteroom design space?
Stabilizing is part of the issue, and the initial inspiration for me making this, but like I said, even though there is some tension in making death saves, it's still significantly less fun than actually being able to move and speak and act.
The idea is to maintain the tension of death saves "Am I going to be able to get back up and get my full arsenal back? Am I going to bleed out crawling on the floor?" but also give the player choices and options. Try to get away or attack? Get to safety, or crawl to the objective while the enemy is distracted? Dash for maximum distance, or disengage to make certain you don't just take an attack of opportunity while fleeing?
At the same time, natural stabilizing isn't the sole culprit. There is outside-stabilizing to consider. I posited that a character only ever stabilizes when their party doesn't have a way to get them back up- no heals left to use essentially. But players can always stabilize their friends, if they can get to them and are willing to burn an action and don't fuck up a DC 10 check.
One of the scenario's that inspired this was a player who went down in round 2, the party had no healing to get them back up, but did have people who could have easily stabilized him. He actively told them not to, because that meant he had no chance of getting back in the fight.
Which I thought was ludicrous in a sense—why would you want to keep being in danger?—but also made sense because as long as he kept making death saves, he felt he had a chance of getting to keep playing, and stabilizing would have been the death of that chance.
And that felt intrinsically wrong that the system encouraged the player to refuse life saving aid. So I felt a solution was in order.
That was the perceived issues behind this anyway that made me want to write this up.
An issue I notice with this is it could get too samey. When a player gets downed by a wolf seconds away from the actual victory is different from the encounter with Angel from before. Maybe it would only be introduced when a players resolved are peaked. That would allow for the half orc ability to stay relevant.
By resolves being peaked, I'm not involving any arbitrary saves (ie. Con Save DC 5 + Damage Taken) but if the players themselves are pumped but go down. Then they enter this state. I say this because, you know, there is a difference between a wolf biting your leg and the murderer of your family is getting away and you are the only one with a chance to stop them.
That's a really good point! Save it for those fights where everything's at sake, when the player most wants to keep going and it would suck the most if they couldn't, and it'll feel nice while still feeling special.
I like this!! It would be even crazier to have it be a surprise mechanic when fighting a boss. Imagine players going apeshit when they find out they aren't just stabilized... they can DO shit
I would modify the rules slightly for my own game (either can't Attack or Cast a Spell with the downed condition, or doing so adds a level of exhaustion), but I appreciate this alternative look to the least-fun part of the game. Implementing a rule like this may also give DM permission to make encounters a bit harder, since the consequences of being reduced to 0 HP are lessened.
I like it, but I think I won't give them the action for free. If you want to attack, cast a cantrip, dash or disengage the have to make a Con save (DC 10+twice the times they went to 0 hp from the last long rest) to do it. And then they take an exhaustion level, save passed or otherwise.
I really like this. I’m running two games right now, a solo campaign for my gf and am about to start up DotMM after finishing WDH, I’ll let you know how this works and what I try different.
This sounds awesome and I may adopt it for my campaign.
In addition, could the ability to take “higher-level actions” be a feat? Something like you get +1 Constitution and may fail one death saving throw to take any action. Maybe something else in there like a bonus to death saving throws. I don’t know as I’ve no idea how to balance 5e feats, but it does sound like the kind of thing a feat would be great for.
Edit: A great balance for players not being out the fight completely or getting themselves back up might be keeping death saving throws constant until a short/long rest is completed. I think this might already be a rule? But maybe bumping up the total death saving throws needed to die to 4 and making it a rule that dropping to zero automatically fails one will add back in more tension and prevent characters with healing from just getting back up over and over. This all might be getting too complicated though.
This just makes 0-hp the new 10-hp; about to die but still able to do some actions, and enough of a threat to make the enemies attack you. It makes "dead" the new 0-hp.
I feel like the whole issue is because of too-deadly encounters caused by not-enough encounters per adventuring day.
You know, you're not wrong about that. Interesting point I hadn't considered regarding the issue being in number of encounters. I could see that.
I guess I'm just not a fan of players being unable to do anything when they haven't lost yet. Thus the attempt to deliver on the idea that the heroes can keep struggling as long as they still draw breath.
I would probably limit the actions they can take to the help, interact, 5 feet of movement, and a single attack even if they have the extra attack feature. No leveled spells. I’d be tempted to remove cantrips as well in order to remove the self spare the dying. But then a downed wizard can’t do jack, so not sure.
I've been doing a related thing. All the death and dying stuff happens as normal, but on rounds where you succeed your death save, you remain conscious, and so can speak, crawl up to 5 feet and have an item interaction. When you fail, you are unconscious as normal.
I feel this clarifies some of the language in these suggestions and solves a handful of problems. Namely, losing a turn to being stunned is very much a punishment for falling to 0hp even if everything else is bearable. Then consciousness saving throws give more time to interact while devastated, and not risking death while on their feet. However I do feel that I have made falling to 0hp extremely complicated, so I would very much enjoy feedback on this ruling.
If you wanted abit more of a dramatic sacrifice feel why not combine the deatg saves and the possible actions. Like when a creature hits 0hp they automatically enter the downed state witht the mechanics listed above. On there turn they can choose to take one of those actions but they automatically take a failed death save. Or the player can save thier strength and roll a death save, maybe with a lower target. Three fails and dead. Three successes and they remain stable but still in the downed state.
That way you can have those final moments of drama and effort as the fighter uses his last breath to drive a blade into the enemy right before succumbing himself.
I like the idea and will definitely try to use it in my game, maybe with a few of the suggestions listed already and possibly one idea of my own that I had: accumulating additional failed death saves (or having more failures than successes) would further limit the actions the character could take as they slipped closer and closer to unconsciousness.
Someone in the comments had also suggested requiring a CON check in order to perform certain actions like attacking or casting a cantrip; they had mentioned the DC for that check scaling up with the number of times the character had already been knocked down, so maybe additional failed death rolls could also add on to that DC.
I always thought it would be cool if instead of going unconscious at 0 hp, you went into a condition similar to this. Either you use your one action to attempt to resist death, escape your assailant, or do one last meaningful thing (attack with a weapon or interact with an item). Then, if you stabilize, you're no longer dying, but you still need to be healed in order to get back your other abilities. This way people still have options, rather than simply being unconscious.
Delayed, but I really like this, but my group wanted to change the way death saves themself work. This still needs playtesting, but I wrote my own
THe 5e is already forgiving enough. You are trying it to make even more forgiving. People go to 0 hp when they fuck up (if the GM knows what he is doing) so boredom is a fair punishment, Also how how many turns do your fights last? 1-2 turns for him to reach 0 hp, 3 turns to stabilize and enough turns afterwards to make him bored? Run faster encounters.
This. Encounters usually only go 2-5 rounds anyway. If someone runs in and gets mauled by everyone, they can take the time to go read about the Dodge action.
You could implement the Ferocity universal monster rule, or something approximating it, from Pathfinder. I know 3.5E had a rule like this, but I don't remember if it was called Ferocity. There is a feat that any creature can get, called Diehard, which is in most ways the same as the Ferocity feature.
In short, when a creature with Ferocity or Diehard is reduced to 0 HP or less, they do not fall unconscious or make a check to do so unless they choose to, and do not make checks to stabilize. While at negative HP, they are staggered - this is a condition that limits the afflicted to a single standard action (which would be just an "action" in 5E, PF2E, etc) per round. Taking that action to do anything more strenuous than simple movement, such as an attack or casting a spell, reduces their HP by 1. They still die when their negative HP tally reaches their Con score, like normal.
I like your Downed concept and think it's more fun than the default results of being reduced to negative HP. I would stipulate that you make an appropriate check when you are reduced to 0 or less HP to remain conscious, though - if you fail, you fall unconscious and things proceed normally like in vanilla rules. If you beat this check, you are only Downed but not out. You could then add a means for characters to get Ferocity/Diehard through some means, but maybe 5E already has something like that for Barbarians etc.
Off the top of my head, two characters have something akin to not going down-
The Zealot Barbarian has a much stronger version of this, technically. When they hit 0, they don’t die until their rage ends. Even if they take 3 failed saves while raging. Or until something kills them outright, like a disintegrate.
Samurai Fighters get to take a turn immediately upon dropping to 0 before they fall unconscious. Neither of those states have any penalties aside from being at 0 and taking failed saves from damage.
When I first introduced this, I did make it a feat, but almost everyone took it and those who didn’t were super jealous, and I realized it was just more fun than going down, so I just made it the default rule for dropping in my games.
Love this. Preserving the sense of danger and giving them limited options is way better for player experience. In my experience, a lot of players will zone out of the game if they feel like they've become useless and are just waiting out the combat.
This doesn't feel good. If I reduce a creature to 0 they shouldn't be able to turn around and kill me with a cantrip.
This is for player characters.
Since a very early point in our games, we've used a simple rule that's only needed one amendment: At the start of your turn when you are down, you can chose to fail a death save to take your turn as normal. If you are hit, you suffer the normal effects (IE failing a death save) and then go back unconscious at the end of your turn. After someone abused healing potions we just had to make it that self healing won't stabilise you.
NO, screw this. Definitely should not allow dashing, disengage, or hide. You are just barely not bleeding out, and now you are going to drag yourself along a floor probably covered in rocks/dirt? You think being prone and unarmed, you can disengage to get away from an ogre? you think you can use a hide action when you are covered in blood and dragging yourself through dirt leaving a path? This makes a warlock get almost no negatives as their cantrip still has all of it's evocations. A barbarian with greataxe already attacks at disadvantage being prone, gets advantage for melee attacks against him, can only move at half speed for being prone, and likely half of that for rough terrain, so melee attacks are vastly diminished, automatically fails str and dex checks which should be the best thing a barbarian should be able to do. THe Barb should have only enough conciousness to dodge being hit again and trying to fight back. So, they should fail everything BUT str and dex checks. That is literally built into humans (persons) as fight or flight, survival at all costs. The warlock will be able to make all their con saves to hold concentration? The warlock/barbarian will have no minus to saves that get into his head telling him that he's going to die soon? This doesn't make sense.
Mechanically, I believe this is better. All saves should be at disadvantage, all attacks made at disadvantage (you dont have strength/dex to attack or mental fortitude to cast spells when you are out of HP). The only 'actions' that can happen is crawl at half speed (due to prone, terrain still applies and stacks) OR attack (1 melee/ranged or 1 cantrip) OR 1 interaction (pull lever, take potion, etc). No bonus actions, no other movement, no reactions, no other interactions. All melee attacks against the downed character are made at advantage, all ranged are made at novantage (advantage for 'unconcious' and disadvantage for 'prone', making all other modifiers nulled too (this is the difference between novantage and normal roll)). No need for the crit on hit, as they would then go into death saves again so actual damage doesn't matter, unless you are worried about overkill damage killing them outright. I personally like the idea of giving the player the option to 'fight through it' taking an exhaustion level each time to get these limited actions, or to not take exhaustion and wait it out unconcious.
One other Note: if the palyers can do it, so can monsters. You had better believe my ancient dragon is getting a few last hits in...
Good idea, thank you
I like the player being able to use actions and be down but not out, I would add a Con save though to be able to push through the pain of dying.
Loved it, deffently gonna try it
I love this, I immediately informed my players that I'm implementing it, lol.
Here are some changes I made / the overall rules I'm using:
-you can move 5 feet per turn but remain prone (crawling)
I feel like I cannot imagine a Downed character surviving/succeeding on, for example, a green dragon's breath, so I added CON saves. They're probably already choking up blood or something. I also don't think it made sense for them to be able to attack normally, so one-handed was the limit for that, or one hand used to hold up a shield. 5 feet may be a low amount of movement, I may playtest it and up it to 10 or 15, but I definitely don't think they should be literally on their feet / able to move 25-30 feet while downed. That's my thoughts! Great concept, really like it!
Just wanna say, after implementing it and using the modifications above, the VERY NEXT SESSION, out of sheer coincidence, a player:
-was fighting a copper dragon wyrmling (buffed to hell and back) ALONE while all other players were incapacitated and an evil machine was blasting lasers basically
-got knocked to 0 by the wyrmling; managed to crawl over to the machine and flip the lever while avoiding bites from the wyrmling
-popped back up to 1 HP by rolling a 20, then chopped the wyrmling's head off
it was really, really badass. love these rules.
I like the idea of giving downed players injuries. Injuries stack, reducing effectiveness over time and add character in the form of scars, unless they be so vain as to have them magically healed.
I think making them gain a level of exhaustion when they attack or cantrip would do the trick. Exhaustion takes a fucking while to get down, so they're not gonna be doing it for every encounter, they can still move, or try something creative, but they can't just keep going "business as usual".
Had similar issues with the downed mechanic, I personally dislike the idea of someone being effectively unconscious when downed which is how it is always played.
I allow two things while downed in my game - move action at half speed, and actions are allowed by taking another death saving throw.
However to counterbalance, death saving throw fails are no longer removed on getting back up to disallow the paladin keeping himself going forever using 1 point lay-on-hands.
Man, this is almost identical to the rules I had been writing and were about to present to my players, and I love it. Makes my decision feel more validated. Nearly everything about your logic is identical, and I did it with a similar system. For me, when a player hits 0, they are Mortally Wounded. They are knocked prone, and drop what they are holding. Their speed is reduced to 1/2 (effectively 1/4 since they can only crawl while prone). Only one action, only one attack, and they don't get disadvantage if they do (last hurrah surge from prone). If they take any action that involves a STR or DEX check, make an attack, cast a spell, or attempt a saving throw, or fail a death save, they fall unconscious per normal rules. Any character that falls unconscious in battle takes a point of exhaustion, and can remove one point per short rest (or all after a long rest).
Consider this, too: If a character is not unconscious (and therefore not incapacitated) at 0, then if an enemy does attack them, the attack is not an auto crit, and will only trigger one DST fail, leaving the dying character two they have to fail on their own. And for the enemy's purposes, out of the fight is out of the fight; they don't track DSTs. That actually means a player might be a bit more likely to survive.
How about stabilized characters gains 1 hp and temporarily get (3+# of death save fails) levels of exhaustion. They are allowed: one action, meaning one choice from: Main action, Bonus action, Reaction, or Interaction, per turn. You can’t use spell slots.
Furthermore, enemies get advantage on saving throws verse your spells or class/race abilities. However, you can negate the disadvantage from your exhaustion (and their advantage vs. your saving throws) and you can use spell slots by taking another temporary lv. of exhaustion. You could cast fireball with one lv. of exhaustion but they’d get adv. on the save, or you could negate the adv. and cast the spell by using 2 lv.s of exhaustion. Thoughts?
Have you read The Angry GMs post on HP and death in 5e? He proposed a solution similar in spirit to this.
Taking away players agency is very much not fun, so instead of going straight to incapacitated he proposed a more theatrical interpretation of HP replace what is HP (or it could just be interpreted as shielding like modern FPS games have, just not as regenerable) and losing all your “HP” demoralizes the character, instead of what normally happens, making it very hard to fight back, but still allows them to step back and recover.
"Oh no! There are negative consequences for getting your ass kicked!"
It's incredible that people are looking to make 5e even more forgiving. If someone can't handle a few minutes of removal from the action, then let them make a real Last Stand: fight to the end of the encounter and then expire.
More like an hour of not doing anything while the rest is having fun.
Disagree. The whole premise of being knocked out is that it takes you out of the fight those making the party that much easier to kill. Your idea reminds me of Bethesda games. It’s like those npc’s you can’t kill. They just get knocked then crawl then stand up. I’m real life getting knocked out is getting knocked out. If you get hit with a great sword and miraculously somehow don’t die and stabilize naturally, without “magic” healing per say, you wouldn’t be able to attack something. And imagine the dragon who has some halting crawling with a dagger. Would it even really be strong enough to pierce its scales having just been blasted with acid then clawed into ribbons? If your players agree it’s fun then that’s all that matters, But it seems to kind of take the realistic ness and life or death out of it by just being “downed” and crawling around like it’s a videogame
I really like this. I had already worked out a system mostly like this, but this will work for fine-tuning.
I think the real huge part is how it makes killing characters feel not cruel. Attacking an unconscious character never feels good, and it always feels like an attack on the player, even when somewhat justified. But with this system? Now a player basically gets a choice to "give you permission", so to speak. It unlocks what I consider serious mental shackles on many DMs.
Id say, if a player goes down in combat, at the end of the fight have them make a con save 10+ 5*# of times they downed. On a success nothing happens, on a fail they suffer a level of exhaustion. Having too many combats where you drop can start really effecting you quickly in a dungeon/adventure and may force a group out for a few days to rest up and clear their exhaustion.
I chose after the fight and limiting it to one level of exhaustion to not punish healing too much and to kind of give an "adrenalines pumping" feel to the fight. No time to be tired you're still fighting.
That and when a character is ressurected, ressurection sickness is just 5 levels of exhaustion, one off of death. Basically takes you a week to get back to normal.
For every house rule or homebrew I usually ask myself two questions.
I don't see the example you provided as an issue that needs solving. You took too much damage, you are in grave peril, and you could likely die. That is the risk all adventurers take. Death saving throws are a mercy for the player. Stabilizing assumes the party can revive sooner if they have healing, or make a hasty escape if they don't.
Adding more steps to this process doesn't help, either IMO. Disabled guy on the grind still shooting fire bolts? Ok, put him back out of his misery. The player got... An extra attack? Too clunky for what it offers.
I'm just not seeing the point here.
The problem that it tries to solve is that being down and stable (and to a lesser extent being down while still rolling death saves) is boring, both for the player and cinematically. The solution should be elegant but that's being discussed here.